5 easy appliance fixes you can do yourself

5 easy appliance fixes you can do yourself

If the refrigerator is in full swing, your vacuum cleaner stops and starts, or your washing machine (does not) give good vibrations, is your first instinct to call a handyman or would you pick up tools yourself?

When something goes wrong with everyday household appliances, it’s easier to take things into your own hands and fix them yourself. But sometimes you need to contact the manufacturer or consult a professional.

Stop! Does your device still have a guarantee?

Before picking up the tools, check that your device is still under warranty or has been defective within a period of time that means you are owed a repair under the Australian Consumer Code (ACL). In these cases, the manufacturer is likely to be responsible for making any necessary repairs or for providing you with another solution, e.g. B. a refund or replacement.

If you do decide to have a hobbyist yourself, be careful. Some manufacturers claim that any work on their equipment by an “unauthorized workshop” can void the warranty. (We at CHOICE think this kind of restriction is unfair and we are fighting to ban this practice).

Some manufacturers claim that any work on their equipment by an “unauthorized workshop” can void the warranty

In any event, the ACL entitles you to a refund, repair or replacement if a product is defective within a “reasonable time after purchase”. Too often companies suggest that the “reasonable” period is the 12-24 month warranty period, but often it is much longer.

We have a reasonable life expectancy guide for most devices to help you determine if you should seek a solution under the ACL.

Repair or Replace?

If your device is broken and lasts longer than the warranty period or what you’re insured for under consumer law, it may be cheaper to replace it than to fix it – although some people are willing to pay a little more to repair it if so means that you can save the device from a landfill.

It is worth looking for local repair options, e.g. B. Repair cafes (if the item is portable) that can help you repair defective items yourself or fix problems for you. Of course, if you can’t repair, recycle, or return it to the manufacturer, the landfill is the most likely destination.

Not built to last

In an ideal world, we would have affordable and durable products for which the repair process (with manufacturers or independent repairers) is easy and fair. It would mean better quality products in our homes with a lower environmental impact.

Read what CHOICE is doing on this topic.

There are many general device problems that you can fix yourself, but sometimes you need to consult an expert.

Common device problems that you can fix yourself

The good news is that your problem might be something you can easily fix on your own. If you have a problem not listed here, seek advice online, check the troubleshooting guide on the CHOICE website or your user guide, or contact the manufacturer’s customer service to see if other customers are having similar issues had.

1. A leaking refrigerator

A budget to mid-range refrigerator should last at least six to nine years before replacing rather than repairing it, but things can go wrong.

Spy on a puddle of water under your fridge door? At the back of the refrigerator, check that the condensate tray is correctly positioned and that the drain hose that leads to it is actually pointing towards the drip tray.

A budget to mid-range refrigerator should last at least six to nine years before you even think about replacing it rather than repairing it

How do you know where to find this? CHOICE appliance expert Ashley Iredale advises: “Pull out the refrigerator and turn it over. Many refrigerators have an opening at the bottom where you can see the compressor and various pipes and small parts and find it.

“Some refrigerators have a completely solid, sealed back – if that’s the case, break out the screwdriver to remove the bezel. If the back is not removable, you can be out of luck. “

Water is leaking in the refrigerator

If water leaks in the refrigerator, it could mean a drain or outlet is clogged (or maybe you just have old, leaky food in it).

There are drainage channels in some refrigerators. So check for any clogged food or dirt and remove them. If the drainage channels are not clogged, the leak could be due to condensation. So check that the door closes properly, that it is not open too long and that the seals are working well (they may need to be replaced). This can also happen during periods of high humidity.

Ashley says, “Replacing a door seal is a relatively straightforward process if a replacement seal is available.

Here is a list of other common refrigerator problems and how to fix them.

2. A flooding dishwasher

If water collects in the bottom of your dishwasher or on the floor outside of the dishwasher after you wash it, there are a few things that could be causing the problem.

Blockages and kinks

The filter and pump can be clogged with food debris, which means that all you need to do is clean them thoroughly. Also check the drain hose for blockages, damage or kinks (these can come loose over time). If the drain hose is leaking or damaged, remove it and replace it with a replacement hose.

Ashley says, “How complicated this job gets depends on how the drain hose is attached. It is definitely worth a try, and if it is a simple screw connection or hose clamp it should be a relatively simple machine, then you may need a professional. “

Does not empty properly

Another reason could be that your dishwashing cycle was interrupted so it was not going to flow properly. Try rebooting (the old trick works on both devices and computers!). Here is a list of other common dishwasher problems and their solutions.

How long should a dishwasher last?

You should expect your dishwasher to last around nine years, although some repairs and maintenance can be expected within this time. If you have a problem that you can’t fix yourself and the warranty has expired, you may need to call a plumber or service technician to see if the problem should be fixed – or if it’s time to get a new dishwasher to buy.

3. A stick vacuum cleaner that doesn’t vacuum

When we ask Australian consumers what their biggest problems with stick vacuums are, one in four (25.4%) says it has short battery life and one in 10 (10.8%) says it doesn’t pick up dirt.

The good news is that you can make some fixes yourself, which means you can potentially avoid getting a new one. If you charge your stick vacuum for the recommended time and it breaks down or does not work well, it could be a battery issue. Alternatively, you may just need to clean or replace the filter (or something is blocking it).

If you are having trouble with your stick vacuum cleaner, first check the hose / wand for clogs, including the inlet on the cleaning head

Chris Barnes, CHOICE small appliance expert

CHOICE Small Appliance Expert Chris Barnes says, “If you are having trouble with your stick vacuum cleaner, first check the hose / wand for clogs, including the inlet on the cleaning head and where the dust gets into the bag / container, keep the filters clean.”

Cleaning the filter

Dyson also recommends that you clean your filter once a month to keep your stick vacuum cleaner running efficiently (remove it, shake it to remove dust or dirt, wash it off with warm water and leave it on before replacing it dry). Check your manual or manufacturer’s website for cleaning instructions for your model, or check out our expert guide on how to clean your vacuum cleaner.

Replace batteries

Batteries typically last three to four years and on most models (except the cheapest) you can easily replace the batteries, usually with just a simple click and release. Unfortunately, the cost of replacing batteries, which can be around $ 100, means that if your stick-vac is on the cheap side, it might not be economical.


Before you tinker with your washing machine, check whether it is still under warranty and whether the manufacturer is responsible for any repairs.

4. A wobbly or wobbly washing machine

All washing machines usually vibrate a little during the wash cycle. But if your washing machine starts acting like a bucking rodeo horse or damages your floor, it needs attention.

Check the balance

First, make sure it’s level and not out of whack. Front loaders are more prone to vibrations than top loaders. However, most manufacturers agree that standing a front loader on a wooden floor shouldn’t cause damage to the floor (due to the vibrations) as long as your floor is level and in good condition and the feet of your washing machine are properly adjusted, in good working order and stabilized.

Bad vibrations?

To avoid excessive vibration, make sure you load your washing machine evenly, alternating between small and large items, and not overloading it (do not wrap clothes around the agitator in a top loader). Don’t wash bed linen and towels by yourself – pack smaller items in your cargo too.

Another cause could be that your springs or shock absorbers are damaged and / or need to be replaced. But our experts suggest that this is a job that is probably best left to a professional.

5. Gas hobs that “click” but do not light up

If your gas hobs don’t ignite but the ignition switch works (you know because you hear the “click”), first check your gas supply.

If all of this looks okay, your igniter / burner orifices or nozzles may be misaligned, or clogged with food or debris, restricting gas flow. Turn off the gas, make sure the burners are not hot, then remove and clean the surface burners and openings according to the directions in your manual (a toothbrush or toothpick can come in handy) and make sure they are completely are dry. Refit the burner, cover and grill.

If that doesn’t work, there may be a problem with your ignition or the ignition switch. Unless you are a very self-confident do-it-yourselfer, we strongly recommend calling a professional for this.

Marg Rafferty Andy Kollmorgen and Jarni Blakkarly

Learn more about our research on consumer rip-offs and bad business practices.

Marg Rafferty Andy Kollmorgen and Jarni Blakkarly

Learn more about our research on consumer rip-offs and bad business practices.